Listen: Salty Papa / Al Grey AlGreySaltyPapa.mp3
Ella Fitzgerald’s version of ‘Black Coffee’ is classic. Some adult radio station spun it while riding in a friend’s parent’s car back in the early 70′s. His Dad was driving us somewhere or another, a couple of hours away, and everyone was well fidgety trying to tolerate the music. Indeed, it was a challenge until this came on, then suddenly worth the struggle.
Soon after, I found a promo of her then current Reprise album, THINGS AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE, in a used shop for $1.00. Not only was ‘Black Coffee’ included, but her rendition of ‘Sunny’ was as well. Perfect.
Al Grey featured on the trombone. Although not one for brass, it was hard to ignore his post-swing era style, almost muzak or bachelor pad. You couldn’t have matched a better player to the songs.
Fast forward to September 2010. While rummaging through a Detroit junk shop, I came across a fairly beat copy of Al Grey’s ‘Salty Papa’ on Argo. A no brainer at 25¢.
Somewhat more in the Lionel Hampton or Dizzy Gillespie pocket than I was expecting, ‘Salty Papa’ has still settled nicely into the Seeburg’s C4 slot, parked between The Marvelettes’ ‘I’ll Keep On Holding On’ and Lee Perry’s ‘Roast Fish And Cornbread’…and sounding perfectly at home.